Every now and then, a draft-eligible player slips under the radar of hockey’s Central Scouting Bureau. Sometimes, as in the case of Buffalo prospect Paul Gaustad, a player will be entirely overlooked right up until draft day, when a NHL team decides to take a chance on a forgotten player.
In the case of the Erie Otters’ LW Scott Dobben, CSB apparently decided to right a wrong from their mid-term rankings, moving Scott all the way up to the 92nd slot (4th round) in their final rankings from his previous non-ranked status. A jump like this in CSB’s ratings can only mean that Dobben has caught the eye of some scouts around the NHL.
Scott could best be described as a grinder with good speed and a bit of a scoring touch. After his first year in the OHL last season, where he picked up 17 points (8G, 9A), Scott boosted his totals during the 01-02 season to 31 goals and 63 points. In addition to his offense, Dobben also put his size (6’1″, 194 lbs.) to good use, picking up 72 PIMs in 68 games.
Scott and his Erie teammates are currently playing in the OHL final vs. Barrie. A win in this series will send the Otters to the Memorial Cup tournament, which is being played in Guelph, ON.
I spoke with Scott prior to a recent playoff game, with that conversation being presented in the transcript below. A special thanks goes to Erie’s Media Relations Director Mark Jeanneret, who was kind enough to grant me access to Scott, as well as several other players over the course of this season. Thanks, Mark!
HF: Let’s start with this season. You scored 31 goals during the regular season- did the Otters’ coaches expect you to score some goals this year? Are you known as an offensively oriented player?
SD: I guess after last year, coming in as a 2nd-year player, they were expecting more out of me. So the season started, and in the 1st game I scored 2 goals right away, and I just never turned back. My scoring is a part of my game that definitely improved this year.
HF: You came to Erie as a 17-year old. What was your first year in the OHL like?
SD: It’s basically a learning experience your first year. Actually, during games and practices, I watched guys like Brad Boyes and Cory Pecker, and tried to pick up some things that they do on the ice and applied it to my game. Obviously, if they’re good, and I can put what they do into my game, it will make me better in the long run.
HF: What kind of player do you see yourself as? What do you do well that made you the player that you were this season?
SD: My main assets are my speed, the forecheck, banging some bodies, and coming back to play sound defense.
HF: Do you get special teams work at all?
SD: Yeah, I play on the power play and penalty killing units. Cory and me are pretty good with the penalty killing; we had quite a few shorthanded goals.
HF: Do you usually play on Erie’s first line?
SD: Yeah, I usually play with Brad Boyes and Jeff Doyle. That’s the way it’s been for most of the season.
HF: Where are you originally from?
SD: Drayton, ON. It’s about 45 minutes west of Kitchener. It’s just a little village of about 2000 people or so.
HF: Are there any players from that area that played in the NHL?
SD: Yeah, Scott Cherry, who used to play for North Bay, was drafted by Washington. I think he’s playing in the ECHL now.
HF: Well, maybe you’ll be the 1st one to make it to the NHL, then. And speaking of getting to the NHL, have any NHL scouts talked to you during the season?
SD: They’ve talked to my agent. He keeps in touch with me. They don’t say much during the season, but I think that happens more as the draft gets closer.
HF: You grew up in Kitchener, so would you have been a Maple Leafs fan?
SD: Actually, I was always a fan of Jaromir Jagr and the Pittsburgh Penguins. He’s great with the puck, especially his stickhandling, so he is someone that always caught my attention.
HF: Now that Erie is getting closer to the Memorial Cup, do you guys sit around and talk about it much, or do you avoid the subject?
SD: We try to take one game at a time. We don’t want to jinx ourselves by saying, “Oh, I can’t wait to get there”, and things like that. We try to keep it low-key, but it’s obviously in the back of everyone’s mind.
HF: Who would you say is the biggest influence in your life, as far as your game is concerned?
SD: Actually, there are probably a couple people. My parents, for one, for driving me all over the countryside to games and practices, and a couple of coaches along the way, who made a big impact on my hockey career.
HF: What kinds of things do you do in your spare time?
SD: I like to hang out with the guys, go to dinner and movies, stuff like that. I also take some classes, so, between that and practices, there is not much time during the day to do other stuff.
HF: You’re about college age- are you taking college courses?
SD: Well, we took college courses up until the start of the playoffs.
HF: Which school did you attend?
SD: Mercyhurst College. It’s a school in Erie.
HF: I attended St. Vincent College, outside of Pittsburgh. We used to play Mercyhurst in basketball and other sports, so I’ve heard of it. I’ll let you get ready for your game. Good luck to you the rest of the way, and at the draft.
SD: Alright, thanks a lot.